With some places you wonder: do they actually welcome tourists? In the case of Sakhalin, Russia's largest island in the North Pacific, the answer is a bit ambiguous.
On the one hand, tourist infrastructure is mostly lacking here, the government made it hard to visit until 2013, and they are not really "on the market" to attract a great many of us. On the other hand, the natural resources sector has flourished here and for that reason there are plenty of good hotels catering to those that come to do business here. Tourists can leverage off that.
And why would tourists come here? Well, the novelty factor of visiting the island that used to be administered both by Japan and Russia (until the Soviets overran the Japanese at the end of World War 2) and sees very limited tourist numbers due to the reasons named above, is certainly there. A place where English speakers are hard to come by, Lenin statues still tower over squares, and the Soviet Union seems to have only just dissolved has its appeal to some.
But best of all in Sakhalin is probably the untouched natural beauty. Covered with dense forests home to bears and foxes (it is also said that 43% of all bird species of the former Soviet Union were to be found on Sakhalin), you will find gems like the serene Tunaicha lake or the Waida mountains with its caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites. [Review by travelindicator]
- Sakhalin is a region in Russia. It is situated at an altitude of 1053ft and the best airport to fly into is UUS (Yuzhno Sakhalinsk, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk)
- The main spoken language here is Russian, and the average English skill is low
- The currency used in Russia is the Russian ruble (RUB)
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